(*This story was updated to include my interview with Aydin)
Aydin Senkut is one of the more high-profile angel investors these days. And, it's not because he has a great track record in seed funding, having invested in Mint (acquired by Intuit), Aardvark (acquired by Google), and Tapulous (acquired by Disney). Nor is it because he's one of our VC investor panelists at our upcoming Vator Splash (Sept) event on Sept. 30.
It's because he just raised $40 million for his four-year-old angel firm, Felicis Ventures. The round was oversubscribed by 33%, meaning Aydin could have taken more, but chose not to.
"My original target was $30 million, but I said I would take money up to $40 million," said Aydin, in a recent interview, explaining that making a fund too large would direct the type of investments he would need to make to maximize a return for his investors.
Additionally, humility is a good restraint. With $40 million, it's already a pretty high bar for Aydin, given that this is the first fund with outside investors. His first fund - Felicis I - had no money but his own. Additional money can only come, once success is realized, he said.
Not only did Aydin attract more money than he wanted to, he raised it from some very high-profile names, such as Peter Thiel (founder of Clarium Capital, Founders Fund, co-founder of PayPal) and Paul Buchheit, inventor of Gmail and co-founder of FriendFeed, which was sold to Facebook for $50 million). Both Aydin and Paul worked together at Google. Both Peter and Paul are also investors in Vator. Insitutional firms Flag Capital and Weathergage Capital also backed Adyin.
With this new fund, Aydin is increasing his investment size. With Felicis II, he plans to invest in three buckets: Seed round - $100k to $500k, Series A - $500k to $1 million and Series B - $1 million to $2 million.
Aydin's fund is called a "super angel" fund because his investments will be more than a typical angel investor can invest. It's designed to fuel the startup enough to get it beyond a typical A-stage investment and right into a growth round. It's a relatively new category, though other firms, such as First Round and True Ventures (with $100m-plus funds) exist on one end, and Jeff Clavier's SoftTech VC, Ron Conway's SV Angel, Mike Maple's Floodgate, and Felicis Ventures exist at the other lower end.
Aydin adds that a "super angel" fund really just means that being an angel is more of a full-time commitment and outside money is typically leveraged.
The fund is also positioned to be "founder" friendly, meaning it will lean toward favorable terms for the founders. In order to keep to this mantra, Aydin has brought Paul Buchheitt on board as an advisor. "Having visionary founders on board can help us make sure we're keeping on top of the trends that matter," he said.
The fund is targeted for investing in mobile applications and e-commerce, and will specifically look at verticals in the Internet and mobile space, such as education, healthcare, personalized medicine and energy conservation. Aydin doesn't want to just focus on super, hyper-growth startups just because everyone is investing in them. He wants to bet on a sector or trend and have a conviction in that area.
The consumer Internet is an area Aydin knows well. First, as an early employee at Google, and second as an angel investor. Felicis Ventures has made over 60 investments in seed-stage consumer Internet and mobile companies to date. Just within the last year, more than a dozen have been sold.
Now that Aydin is flush with fresh cash, here's an interview with him explaining what he's interested in.